SwedishAmerican, a division of UW Health, is updating its vaccination policy to require COVID-19 vaccination for all employed providers and staff.

The policy is similar to SwedishAmerican’s pre-existing requirement to receive a flu vaccine. According to SwedishAmerican Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Polizzotto, the new policy reflects SwedishAmerican’s commitment to the safety of all patients and associates.

“The safety of our patients and our associates is our top priority at SwedishAmerican,” Dr. Polizzotto said. “COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be safe and effective in preventing transmission, and for those who do contract COVID-19, the vaccines reduce the possibility of serious illness, hospitalizations or even death. As we confront the rapid spread of COVID-19 driven by the Delta variant, we want to do everything possible to protect our staff, our patients and our community.”

Details and deadlines for the new policy will be announced at a later date. Staff who have a medical condition that prevents them from being vaccinated can file for an exemption that requires written documentation and a signature from a physician, and exemptions for religious convictions may also be filed.

The more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant is now responsible for more than 80% of the new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the most effective way to prevent people from severe illness or worse, is to get the vaccine, Dr. Polizzotto said.

To date, more than 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally with very few serious side effects.